The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority and Main Street Power Company last month hosted dedication ceremonies for a new solar power generation plant in Estate Donoe on St. Thomas. The new facility, which during testing peaked at 4.2MW, will provide as much as four to five percent of the island’s current baseload capacity during daylight hours.
WAPA chief executive officer and executive director Hugo V. Hodge, Jr. said the addition of the solar farm and a similar installation on St. Croix, which was dedicated in 2014, continues the authority’s effort to diversify its generation resources.
“We are one of a handful of islands in the Caribbean region that can proudly say that we no longer depend on 100% fuel oil to generate electricity for our residents and businesses. Our efforts continue to complete the propane fuel conversion in both districts and we will continue to add solar, propane and other fuel types along with some wind and biomass as is feasible.”
Hodge reiterated WAPA’s ultimate goal is to provide “reliable electrical and water service to our ratepayers at the most affordable rates.”
Other speakers on the program included lifelong WAPA engineer Donald Francois, a member of the Governing Board, as well as principals of Main Street Power and Morgan Stanley. A cross-section of community and government leaders witnessed the dedication and commissioning of the solar power generation plant.
A 25-year solar power purchase agreement between WAPA and Main Street Power is part of the utility’s strategy to deploy solar, propane and other renewables to reduce ratepayer costs. Main Street Power will manage the operations and maintenance of the facility for the duration of the agreement, in partnership with WAPA.